History of Baseball

The history of baseball can be broken down into various aspects: by era, by locale, by organizational-type, game evolution, as well as by political and cultural influence. Baseball evolved from older bat-and-ball games already being played in England by the mid-18th century. This game was brought by immigrants to North America, where the modern version developed. By the late 19th century, baseball was widely recognized as the national sport of the United States. Baseball is popular in North America and parts of Central and South America, the Caribbean, and East Asia, particularly in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.

References to baseball date back to the 1700s where in Tudor England it was known as a game called rounders. Rounders is referenced in 1744 in the children’s book A Little Pretty Pocket-Book where it was called Baseball. In 1871 the first professional league, the National Association of Professional Baseball Players, was founded. Five years later, the National League was created; it was followed by the American League in 1901. The first World Series between the champions of the two major leagues was held in 1903, and by 1905 it became an annual event.

Baseball early in the 20th century was characterized by low-scoring games, but the dead-ball era ended in the early 1920s with rule changes and the rise of power hitter Babe Ruth. The major leagues had a color barrier that lasted until 1947, when Jackie Robinson made his debut. The major leagues began the process of expansion in 1961 and attendance increase from the mid-1970s to 1994, when a work stoppage led to the cancellation of the World Series.

Professional baseball leagues featured teams from Canada as early as 1877, and the sport spread to numerous countries in the 1800s and 1900s. It was played in the Olympics as a medal sport from 1992 to 2008. Other competitions between national teams include the Baseball World Cup and the World Baseball Classic, which was first held in 2006.